AMD cuts 10% of workforce, leaves one group untouched

This is going to hurt a lot

AMD - logoAMD (NYSE:AMD) has just decided to lay off about 10% of it’s employees according to a press release, but one group of people is strangely untouched. While our condolences go out to all the ex-AMDers out there, we do fear for the remaining ones.

The short story is simple, 10% are gone, told you so. Slightly longer, the press release was entitled, “AMD Optimizes Cost Structure to Enhance Competitiveness and Accelerate Growth“, and shows that AMD has a lot of feeling for those let go. I am pretty sure they will all be glad to know that they are good optimizations, the sentiment almost brings a tear to my eye. The best list of high level ‘optimizations’ I have seen is at Icrontic, including a nice link to the internal memo itself describing the ‘optimizations’.

There are a few things that come to mind here, the lists we have seen, and a few that asked not to be publicly named, are some of the best and brightest at AMD. Having lost their CEO under exceptionally stupid circumstances, then their COO, VP of corporate strategy, and quite possibly their best remaining executive asset at that point, Rick Bergman, you have to wonder what is going on?

According to Icrontic, the list of ‘optimized’ employees is going to hurt. Carrell Killebrew, the man credited with Eyefinity, probably the largest advantage AMD has in the graphics market right now, VP of corporate strategy Patrick Moorhead, and many others. Add to this the brain drain that has happened over the last few months, people like Dr. Gamal Refai-Ahmed, David Hoff, and dozens of others, you have to wonder who is left.

That is completely unfair, there are lots of good people remaining at AMD, but the sheer number of VPs, Fellows, and other high ranking people that were just optimized is rather shocking. If you don’t think this is the end of an era for AMD, here is something to think about, Patrick Moorhead was the last VP at AMD from the Sanders era. Of the dozens of VPs at a company of AMDs size, he was the last one of the old guard remaining. For good or for bad, this is a new chapter for AMD.

Updated 11/3/11: Fixed spelling, Moorhead has no second e.

With all of the optimizations flying around, you have to wonder about one group that has been totally untouched by this round, the board. When talking about the buck stopping somewhere, you normally go up the food chain until you can’t think up an excuse to point the finger at the guy with the next largest office.

The number of CEOs for the first few decades of AMDs existence was one. In the last decade, there have been three more, so the buck probably doesn’t stop with that post anymore, nor the fully optimized ranks just below them. You have to wonder when shareholders are going to question the top level when everyone else that can be blamed is gone by now?S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also available through Guidepoint and Mosaic. FullyAccurate